Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tony Hawk's American Sk8land: classicly sk8ing

Having completed the story mode, I've been playing the classic mode of this. Each of the levels has around ten goals tocomplete, and you get two minutes at a time to complete them. The first few goals are easy - a lowish combo score, a lowish total score, collecting the letters S, K, A, T, and E - and you can clear a few in a single run. But later goals are harder, and I've been stuck on a few.

However, I have now completed every goal for the first three areas, including some very long combos of grinds, manuals, jumps and reverts. The goals are getting harder now though, and progress is a little slower.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 25/01/2006

I did play Advance Wars: Dual Strike abit, and nearly completed one war room map twice, but it was taking too long and I was losing too many units. I'm claiming a half success on that one.

Get at least an A ranking on Twin Isle in Advance Wars: Dual Strike.

Clear all goals for the first three levels of classic mode in Tony Hawk's American Sk8land.

Finish the fourth level of Spartan: Total Warrior.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tony Hawk's American Sk8land: story mode: completed!

I've completed the story mode of this tonight, and I've enjoyed it. It's relatively simple, with you having to travel around areas and find people who'll give you some money to perform a certain trick or sequence. You only have to complete a few of these before the pro turns up and challenges you to something a little harder - but completist I am, I was clearing each stage of challenges before talking to the pro.

The final challenge was set by Tony Hawk himself, and was to do a 900° Japan - erm, a spin in the air holding onto the board. I managed it on my second try - you just had to jump high enough. There were some much more tricky challenges in the game than that ...

Anyway, I've now started playing the classic mode, which is a little more tricky. The challenges are all given to you at the start and you have two minutes to do as many as you can. Some are easy, some less so; I've now got past the first level (10/10 challenges completed) and am exploring the second.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: Yay Day

Joan was selling turnips for 110b each this morning. I bought some through gritted teeth - 810 in total - and have stored them outside my house. I hope nobody steals them.

Today is Yay Day, where you have to compliment everyone. it started off well, with Nibbles appreciating my compliment of "cute cheeks", and Bones being extatic about being told he has a "nice shirt", but the game failed to recognise the non-complimentary nature of what I said to Gabi - I don't think "horrific acne" is what every girl would love to hear, actually. Bill had a "shiny beak", and Gwen had "overkill eyeliner". Well, "overkill eyeline", since I ran out of letters.

I also have some orange pansies. They've grown between a bunch of yellow pansies and a bunch of red pansies. Flower breeding is a new concept.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Nintendogs: Sammi and Baby Gee

Gaby got a pink DS and Nintendogs for Christmas, and she wanted to link up to see what happened. First, however, I had to feed and water Sammi, and give her a bath to stop the fleas jumping off of her. Animal Crossing has a lot to answer for.

We put our DSes into bark mode, and they both barked soon after. "Baby Gee" had brought Megan to play. While Megan was active and bouncy, she didn't like to play with the ball, or the frisbee, or the bone, or the skipping rope. In fact, she was rather boring.

Multiplayer has no interaction, other than seeing how the other person has trained their dog. You both get to play independently with the dogs, and obviously you can't give the visiting dog voice commands since they won't recognise you. It's rather limited, really, but endearing. It's a shame that you can't really expect people on the tube to have their DS set to bark mode, however ...

Still, at least the kennel now has some shi tzu puppies in, if I ever decide to get another one.

Kururin Squash

Despite loving Kuru Kuru Kururin long time, five dorrer, I've never even had this Gamecube game out of the box. After some initial Freeloader difficulties, I got it working, and we guessed our way through the options to a multiplayer race game.

Which was superb. We were in fits of laughter knocking each other out of the way as we squeezed through some really tight passages, then banging against the wall in a masive cavern and being sent back to the checkpoint.

I can only image the carnage which result from a four-player game.

After the seventh race, the girls got back, and that was almost it ...

Beach Spikers

I love Beach Spikers. It's a really well thought out adaptation of the sport, and is pretty intuitive. I explained the three shot/two shot rules to Matt, and what the three buttons did. And he sat through the basic demo of running into the circle and setting up the spike.

And then we played. I won, of course.

But the second game was closer. I'm not sure that Matt was entirely overwhelmed with the excellence of the game, in terms of the controls or the rules of gameplay, but he got better at it very quickly, and it was certainly better than Xtreme Beach Volleyball.

Go go go!

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball

Continuing on the Dead or Alive theme, Matt had noticed Xtreme Beach Volleyball on my shelf, and asked if we could play it.

Now, I've never had much luck with this game. I can't get the hang of the actual volleyball at all, which means that I lose almost every game I get to play in the single-player game. And because I don't win, I can never persuade anybody to be my partner, no matter how many presents I give them. So I never get to play any more games.

In two-player, this was OK, but the volleyball is so woolly and your AI partner so unpredictable, that we got fed up pretty quickly. And I decided to show Matt how beach volleyball should be done.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (2)

... and, indeed, Dead or Alive 2 is a rather good game. The immediate differences in graphics and the way the game controlled made us play a number of matches, and we appreciated the way that some levels allowed us to move around and use the arena itself to cause damage to our opponent. Throwing Matt over the edge of the roof was great. Being hurled onto an electric floor wasn't quite as great.

Again, though, the fact that there are quite so many special moves makes the game a little intimidating, and while we were starting to get the hang of counter moves (pressing hold as the other person tried to punch or kick), it still seems that the game would require a lot of time to be invested in it to really appreciate the gameplay.

Dead or Alive Ultimate (1)

Fighting games are made for multiplayer.

I bought Dead or Alive Ultimate for a fiver when I saw it in a sale months ago, and had got so far as reading the manual and getting turned off by the huge lists of special attacks. I had put DoA1 into the Xbox before, but had never really played it.

Dead or Alive 1 looks awful - really bitty, poor textures, poor fighting arenas, and low polygon counts. And the framerate's all over the place too. As for the actual fighting mechanic, it seemed far too slow and restrained, with joypad commands having little effect on what happened onscreen.

Not a huge success. But I did remember reading that the real meat of the compilation was on the Dead or Alive 2 disc ...

Mario Kart Dual Swearing

After lunch, we broke the "not played" rule and played some Mario Kart DS, single-cart multiplayer. Matt was a great fan of the SNES game, apparently, and he seemed to really love the DS update. With the exception of the blue shell, of course.

I was impressed with the way that the single-cart system works. Tracks were downloaded really quickly, and there wasn't too long a wait in the first place. Matt was restricted to playing as Shy Guy, but I could choose any kart and character I wished.

Matt claimed that I chose an unfairly fast character and kart, of course. But I didn't - Luigi and his standard kart hardly set the world on fire.

We had to stop playing in the end because my DS battery started to drain - red flashing lights are a bad sign. Maybe I shouldn't have spent so much of Friday night online in Animal Crossing. Oh well.


I played a bit of this when I first got it, but only in single player, and it seemed just a little too complicated so I soon got disinterested.

To start with, multiplayer seemed a little tame. We were just building up our own sides, basically playing the single player game simultaneously. Matt had played the game before, and explained some of the nuances - the number of pools, the use of the bombs and rain and so on. Some of these things didn't matter in multiplayer, however.

But then it all changed. I pressed the Y button by accident, and sent across an 'ice attack'. Matt sent back an 'earthquake attack'. We realised that the meter along the bottom of the playing field built up over time, and allowed you to influence your opponent's playing field.

And it really unbalances the game. While you can send over water, ice and earthquake attacks, the best thing to do is just to continue to build it up until you can send over a bomb attack - which drops a few bombs on the playing field, opening massive holes and draining most of the water out. And your opponent probably loses instantly.

I'm sure that if we were more skilled, we'd be able to prevent losing immediately after such an attack, but as it was it pretty much killed the game. Shame.

Matt played single-player while I did some lunch, and got ten pools at one point, and lots of rainbows. He considered himself to 'rock'.

Charge 'n' Blast

Another Dreamcast game which I'd never played in multiplayer - in fact, I'd only ever played this once, and gave up after five minutes after it was just a bit too hard.

However, in multiplayer it shines. This is a out-and-out arcade game, with your movements limited to a single plane, and you having to concentrate more on where you're shooting than where you're standing. You can't just shoot everything though - you must first select which weapon to charge up (using X, Y or B on the joypad), then fire it with A. You can fire immediately, but it's best to wait for the charge meter to build up to the maximum.

The reason it works so well in multiplayer is that you can arrange to use different weapons at the same time, allowing some experimentation rather than having to sit with the boring ordinary single rocket over and over again. And you can work well as a team, with one member concentrating on where the vulnerable points of enemies are, while the other watches out for incoming attacks and shouts for both to move.

Pretty shallow, then, but good fun.

But the absolute best part of the game lies in the options screen: You can choose to turn 'viblation' on or off. Viblation. Hahaha.

Pod 2

During the day, my friend Matt visited my flat while his girlfriend went shopping with my wife. I think we got a better deal. We decided to play some games which either I'd never played before, or which I'd played very little and not in multiplayer.

First up, we played Pod 2 on the Dreamcast. What fun we had, seeing how the options screen allowed you to limit the online communications to 28.8k. And then we started to play.

There were some downers, indeed. The track was horribly foggy so that it was difficult to see where you were supposed to be going. Some of the cars handled like ... well, a ton of concrete. It was difficult to work out how weapons worked and how they could be used. It was difficult to stay on the track, without going really slowly ... and then you never made any of the jumps. And there were no other opponents.

Yet in multiplayer it was pretty fun. Once we'd got the hang of which pickup did what, and how to use mines and not crash, the game became a lot more strategic. And once we'd found cars which did actually turn when you pushed a direction, it got even better.

I got this for £1.99, I suspect long after the online servers had closed down. But it was pretty fun to play, and I think we got my money's worth in the half an hour we played for.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: turnip situation improving

I managed to get out last night and sold half of my turnips in Arkham, courtesy of Dante, for 250b each. This more than covered my investment, and I kept some in case I got access to a 400b+ price.

This morning Nook offered 62b. This afternoon, he's offering 60b.

I need to find somewhere else to visit tonight ...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: turnip situation growing

I bought 1300 turnips from Sow Joan on Sunday morning, at 103b each. Since then, the prices offered by Nook have been:

Monday morning: 76b
Monday afternoon: 81b
Tuesday morning: 83b
Tuesday afternoon: 86b
Wednesday morning: 91b
Wednesday afternoon: 71b

I think I may have to kidnap and kill Nook if he doesn't buck his ideas up.

Meanwhile, an online friend has a price of 205b this afternoon/evening. I've very tempted to sell half my hoard, in order to get at least my original investment back. But I could be waving goodbye to more riches then.


Midweek Challenges - 18/01/2006

Finish the fourth level of Spartan: Total Warrior. That is, if I get to play on the TV at all.

Finish the story mode of Tony Hawk's American Sk8land. I'm up to the warehouse.

Finish two War Room maps in Advance Wars: Dual Strike - not necessarily 4CO ones.

Viewtiful Joe: kick kick punch

It's all in the mind.

My access to the TV is very limited at the moment, with visitors in the evening and "good" programmes on the TV. At least the awful Soapstar Superstar's finished.

Last night, I got a whole ten minutes to play. I chose Viewtiful Joe, and, of course, didn't get anything like anywhere near the end of a level. But I did get to beat up people with style, and it was great fun.

Coming tomorrow: my 5 seconds of playing Sonic Heroes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Spartan: Total Warrior: kill all Romans

Throwing massive hunks of flaming stone at us really isn't fair.

I'm really enjoying this game. It's much deeper than it initially seems, with quite a lot of strategy required in using your colleagues to your advantage. They are a bit pathetic at times, though, so you can't rely on them creating a particularly effective barrier against the onslaught of Romans.

I've completed the third level now - that is, Act 1 Chapter 3 - which involved burning down guard towers which had been erected by the Romans. Sort of crate puzzles with a twist - no pushing them, you just had to find and break them. Then there was a boss battle against the Roman commander. He was mean.

On to Act 2 now.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: lengthy 4CO war room maps

They take far too long to play, and the very fact that it's 3 against 1 makes them very hard. I'm not a genius at this game, I'll readily admit ... but playing these maps gets boring, since I'm getting locked into a stalemate and just can't progress. So I start a new map, and get to the same state. I think I'll leave these for a while.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mario Kart Driving Skills

Kieron only let me win 4 games against him before quitting. Meanie.

He only won one game.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: saving up for turnips

My house is now very large, and Nook's put an obscene mortgage on it. I do, however, have enough bells to pay around half the mortgage off immediately.

But no. I'm saving my money to buy turnips tomorrow. 100,000 bells spent on turnips could turn a pretty healthy profit if I get to sell them for over 300b each later in the week. Here's hoping.

In the meantime, Gabi's moved back from wherever she'd moved to before, and has told me she'll never move again. Nibbles keeps on giving me clothes. And Lobo has challenged me to catch a dace before him, again. And again.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: turnip situation salvaged

I managed to sell my turnip stock to Nook this morning for 394b a piece, making a nice profit over the 102b I'd paid for them. And he paid 16000b for the red turnip I grew from the 1000b seed I bought.

I'm in the money.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: closing Nookway

I just realised that I only had 4000bells left to pay on my mortgage, so I went and collected some fruit and took them into Nook's shop to sell, and then went over to the post office. I've now paid off my second mortgage.

The only problem is that Nook now says that his shop will be closed tomorrow, so my turnip situation is getting slightly desperate, especially given that after tonight I won't even have access to an Internet connection with which I could travel to other towns.

Midweek Challenges - 11/01/2006

I didn't manage to complete any of last week's challenges. The turnip market has been dire, meaning I had no money to pay off my mortgage. The War Room maps were really hard, so I've not completed them. And I never even loaded up Populous: the Beginning.

Finish two of the 4CO War Room maps in Advance Wars: Dual Strike.

Finish to the end of the third level of Spartan: Total Warrior.

Beat Kieron at Mario Kart DS at least five times.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Advance Wars: Dual Strike: 4CO war room maps

Not fair.

I was expecting a four-way battle, since each of us start with our own defined territory. I was not expecting the other three COs to be ganging up on me, to the extent that they can even pass through each other.

Of course, I didn't realise this until I'd spent loads of resources fighting blue on Strong Land, assuming that green and yellow would keep each other busy until I got there. Restart, I think.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Spartan: Total Warrior

A great game, this. It's graphically very impressive, which really adds to the setting when you have hundreds of enemies at once. I'm now at the stage where random button mashing doesn't help much, and you need to concentrate on blocking enemies and take care of being surrounded. There's a big battle outside Sparta, and we're being attacked by ballista. I think I'm going to have to make a run for it.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: barky wark

I've got a bone to pick with Bones. A couple of weeks ago he asked me to come up with a new catchphrase for him. What with him being a dog, I thought "barky wark" was amusing. But he's been spreading it around, and now Nibbles, Gwen and Dora all finish their sentences by saying "barky wark".

Chipmonks should not say "barky wark".

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World: oranges galore

Graham visited Bangaio this evening for about a minute, and left six oranges on the floor. I was most surprised. I was also visited by OJ, who came to collect a painting I bought for him. Amusingly, he then mistakenly attached that painting to a letter which he sent to me. Fool.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Midweek Challenges - 04/01/2006

I will play Advance Wars: Dual Strike again sometime. I will.

Pay off my (second) mortgage to Nook. I've got about 60,000 bells to pay off, and since I'm now able to keep this copy (and send the new copy back) I've got incentive to do so. However, due to the new year celebrations in Bangaio, Joan wasn't wandering around on Sunday morning (yes, I did get up to check - at half eleven) so I can't make money on the stalk market this week. Luckily some of my peach and pear trees are bearing fruit.

After this challenge I'm not going to set challenges from Animal Crossing, however. I think it's a game to be experienced slowly and without trying to go too fast.

Two of the 4CO War Room maps in Advance Wars: Dual Strike, as recommended by Kieron. I'll take Animal Crossing out of the DS at some time.

Kill the greenies in Populous: the Beginning, and then don't get wiped out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mario Kart Defeating Someone

Kieron and John both got Mario Kart DS for Christmas. I've raced against Kieron online a fair few times now. For modesty's sake, I won't post how many times I've won.

Unfortunately, John can play online in the worldwide or continental modes, but it won't connect us if we all try playing the friends mode. Very odd.